Politically and historically conflicted: thoughts on the Macron, May, and the Bayeux Tapestry

As everyone knows by now President Macron has agreed to loan the Bayeux Tapestry to the UK, possibly in 2022 and definitely subject to conservation decisions.* Since the announcement, I’ve been engaged in lively conversations on social media about the politics of the decision, matters of conservation and whether the Tapestry should be moved at all, as well as doing my bit to promote research and scholarship at my place of work by writing pithy comments and being interviewed by a local news channel. Such is the lot of the medievalist when their work becomes unexpectedly topical.

I am, however, genuinely conflicted about this announcement.

Continue reading “Politically and historically conflicted: thoughts on the Macron, May, and the Bayeux Tapestry”


Normans and identity

This post is a response to some questions on Twitter about the nature of Norman history and identity, particularly


I responded on Twitter, but it’s not a great medium for extended discussion, so I’ll do my best here.

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Stop the Dark Ages 2: letter to English Heritage

English Heritage responded to my last post with an invitation to discuss alternatives to the Dark Ages as a term to describe the period 400-1066. Here is the text of the letter I sent co-signed by some of my lovely colleagues who have contributed to this debate. Continue reading “Stop the Dark Ages 2: letter to English Heritage”

Learning from children: medieval history in the classroom

This is a guest post from my good friend, fellow Normannist and primary school teacher, Dr Ewan Johnson. In it he discusses the use of the term ‘dark ages’ as being generational and demonstrates how children learning under the new national curriculum engage with history and the early middle ages in the classroom and beyond. 

Recently, having followed #stopthedarkages and related argument, I asked the students I work with when and what the Dark Ages were. Their answers varied. Some thought they were before the invention of fire or electricity, others that they were when lots of people died, when there was lots of plague, or terrible war in the trenches. When we voted on whether to study them further nobody wanted to because it would be scary, or just about war, or in one case because he was afraid of the dark. My students are seven and eight, they don’t believe in the Dark Ages yet, or much want to. Continue reading “Learning from children: medieval history in the classroom”

Stop the Dark Ages!

Stop the Dark Ages! is perhaps an unlikely slogan, but it is one that caused a bit of a flurry among medievalists last week in response to English Heritage’s defence of the term in relation to interpretation of historic sites. #stopthedarkages has its roots in the recent reinterpretation of Tintagel as outlined by Dr Tehmina Goskar here. So why are medievalists, myself included, rather exasperated by its use?

Continue reading “Stop the Dark Ages!”